Britain is in the middle of a long unrelenting heatwave at the moment. I became a tourist guide because I was fed up with working in an office and wanted a job that would get me out and about. That has its drawbacks when temperatures are in the 80s Fahrenheit which is hovering around 30 Centigrade. People are increasingly using Celsius but I am old-fashioned and prefer Fahrenheit, ‘old money’ as it is sometimes called.
Incidentally, the two temperatures which you can easily convert from one to the other are 61 Fahrenheit which is 16 Centigrade and 28 Fahrenheit which is 28 Centigrade. These are the only two which reverse themselves from one scale to the other and they are the usual range of summer temperatures in Britain, the first comfortable for me, the second nice enough occasionally but too hot if it stays at that level for long.
Which it has recently. I was doing a walking tour of London for some students last Saturday morning and my shirt had circles of sweet marks on it before I even started. My mood was not helped by the fact that, in an act of spectacular bad planning I had bought theatre tickets that clashed with England’s World Cup football quarter final and had to ask her to find some football-hating friends to take our places so my son and I could found watch the match. England won so it worked out in the end, even if I did lose about £200 on the tickets in the process. England rarely do well in soccer, so it was worth it.
Soccer players have to deal with hot weather as well – and they run around in it, whereas tourist guides just walk beneath the beating sun. I usually wear a long-sleeved shirt and tie and jacket to work but have abandoned those for polo shirts which can look reasonably smart. The jacket has to stay, however, as I carry so many items in the various pockets. I refuse to use a male handbag, so the jacket is needed, although it can weigh a bit heavily.
Most of my clothes are bought in the winter when wool is the material of choice. The summer, however, demands linen or cotton, which is lighter and cooler, so I have two outfits in both. One is a dark blue which looks smart but is probably not a good colour for this kind of weather, but will do this afternoon when I am heading to the airport and need to look reasonably smart for my clients. People often encourage me to dress casually but I usually reply that I am working, a representative for the company – and the country – and feel better looking smart. It certainly helps with queue jumping which can be an important part of the job. People don’t object to you going in front if you look official. The downside is that you keep getting asked questions by passers by who see you was a free information supplier.
One man who knows the importance of a good appearance is the England manager Gareth Southgate, whose grandfather was a tailor, and who single-handedly has brought the waistcoat back into fashion as a menswear item. Sales are up b a third, apparently, which is good news for Mars and Spencers who supply the England team with suits and will happily sell you one. It is made in Britain, as well, like the players. More about football next week.